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Stakeholders in Aviation insist on investigation of Nigeria Air

Nigeria Air at Abuja Airport before its unveiling. Photo: Radio Nigeria Archive

The recent revelations on the Nigeria Air project before the National Assembly committees on aviation have continued to generate reactions from stakeholders.

They are demanding an investigation into the entire process of the Nigeria Air project and the unveiling of the Ethiopian-owned aircraft branded Nigeria Air.

Stakeholders have described the Friday, May 26 unveiling of the Nigeria Air painted aircraft as a national embarrassment and a naming ceremony without a child being born.

The dust raised by the unveiling of the aircraft branded Nigeria Air in the twilight of the Buhari’s administration is yet to settle.

Stakeholders, including lawmakers, whose responsibility it is to oversight the sector have frowned at the way and manner the entire project was handled by the former Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika.

Controversies have trailed the proposed national carrier from inception and the rush to unveil it with a chartered Ethiopian Airlines aircraft branded as Nigeria Air raised the suspicion that there was something clandestine about the project.

The Chairmen, Senate and House Committees on Aviation, Senator Abiodun Olujimi and Mr Nnolim Nnaji at a meeting with the aviation ministry and heads of aviation agencies described the project as shrouded in secrecy and a fraud that must be investigated.

“Fraudulently displayed as a new national carrier, this indeed was an embarrassment said Senator Olujimi

Do not support the launch especially at a time issues are yet to be cleared”, Mr. Nnaji

For and against the unveiling

However, some stakeholders say the action of the National Assembly was coming too late and blamed the lawmakers for the poor oversight of the project. They insisted that a thorough investigation must be carried out and anyone found culpable should be sanctioned.

Group Captain John Ojikutu (retired) and Dr Alex Nwuba wondered how the aircraft got security clearance to fly in and the signal it sends to the global community.

“As far as am concern, it has no security clearance to come to this country,” Ojikutu has said.

What signal is Nigeria sending, we are just decimating the economy, decimating the industry,” said Dr Nwuba

Justifying the unveiling of the aircraft, the interim Managing Director of the Embryonic Carrier, Captain Dapo Olumide said it was to demonstrate to Nigerians that the airline was not a fluke.

The aircraft that came in and left was a legitimate charter flight and we thought it was time to show what the real aircraft would look like, ” he said.

Prior to this time, the Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON had dragged the former Minister, the strategic investors and other partners before the Federal High Court to halt the process alleging plans to destroy the airline business in Nigeria by allowing Ethiopian airlines to manage the new airline.

Spokesman for AON, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, also said the airline operators kept raising their voice because the NCAA was being pressured to issue an AOC without following due process.

“And for that reason, some of the strong actors who said No have been removed from NCAA, the NCAA DG merely survived,” Prof Okonkwo maintained.

As stakeholders await the announcement of the new Minister of Aviation by the President Bola Tinubu administration, they look forward to a turning around of the industry.

Reporting by Nosa Aituamen; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu